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Mischa sleeps a lot these days. He sleeps more and more. But his heart still beats, and he still loves his food – and his cuddles. In that order.

DSC_3912copyrightI just hope I know it when he is ready to go.

Our House

The first time I saw the flat I live in now I thought “thank fuck I don’t live in this hell-hole”. What met me was a dark, dank (if large) flat, filled with what to me amounted to no more than junk, and it was dirty. The first time mum saw the flat she pulled me aside and said in shocked tones: “Don’t ever move in here!” But I did.

The rooms have been “reassigned” since then, and some of the hoard has been shifted, but it is essentially the same overcrowded, dirty, ugly space it was. I have failed in my efforts to turn it into a home after my standards. It’s sad. And it makes me sad. And it is a huge contributing factor to my depression.

Mum was an architect. She loved design furniture, and of course she leaned towards airy Scandinavian designs, Bauhaus and modernism. Though our home was by no means pristine – how could it, with two kids, a dog and both parents working? – it had a clear and logical layout and the entire framework was good, as in, the house itself was nicely decorated, painted, the floors were nice, the ceilings, the walls… and the furniture was collected according to mum’s very high standards. Mostly.

There was that one time when dad had spent days clearing out the basement and got rid of stuff mum considered junk (perhaps because it was mostly dad’s junk and included old shoes he’d grown out of during the war but held on to for sentimental reasons, or perhaps it was in case they proved useful, you know, broken old shoes no-one could wear). Then he went to work. At the same time the two little old ladies next door cleared out THEIR basement and threw out several old pieces of furniture. Mum spent the entire afternoon trudging between their heap of junk and our basement, rescuing what she considered gems that she could restore and that would prove oh-so-great, quickly filling up the space dad had worked so hard to clear. It’s one of the few times I’ve seen dad reduced to tears.

So. I come from a line of hoarders. The ability to dump stuff that is of no use, or not acquire new stuff that one really doesn’t need, is not something that was instilled in me as a child. That ability came much later, when Kevin and I had an accident while moving from Edinburgh to London and a lot of our stuff got ruined in the crash. The fact that we walked away with only minor bruises put things into perspective.

Before I moved in with Thomas, however, I lived in a large flat with almost no furniture. The layout was wonderful – you could walk from the hallway to the bedroom to the living room to the office/dining room to the kitchen and get back to the hallway, all in a big circle, and every room had at least one window. There was so much light, and so little furniture, and every morning I would roll out of bed, make a cup of tea and then do my round through the flat with Mischa in tow just enjoying the SPACE and the LIGHT – and the fact that it was so easy to clean and keep neat.

Then mum and dad came to visit. First I had that “touché” moment where mum in awe asked how I kept the place so clean and tidy, then a few weeks later came that other moment when a large lorry arrived with a load of furniture from mum. My grandparents’ sofa, a dining table, six dining chairs, a beautiful, handmade, mahogany sideboard (also from my Danish grandparents), dad’s old mahogany veneer office desk (HUGE!), an old waiting room bench mum had restored herself, the old chest my Norwegian grandfather had used when he went to America to try his luck (I seem to remember dad telling me he even tried his hand as a cowboy in Arizona). The place was suddenly less empty, but as it was so big it easily accommodated all of it and still looked neat and tidy – and cosier.

Then Thomas and I married. I held on to my flat to the end of the contract, half-way dreading the challenge of joining our two households. I knew it would be a nightmare to try to add my old period furniture to the overcrowded mishmash in Thomas’ flat.

And it was.

And it is.

And every day I have moments where I metaphorically bang my head against the wall in despair wondering what I can get rid of to give myself some breathing space. And each time I find something to dump, Thomas fills the freshly liberated spot with empty cardboard boxes, or tools, or motorcycle parts or… Is this some sort of Karma visited upon me because mum got dad to dump his stuff so she could fill it with her kind of stuff?

And that pretty much sums it up. Their justice system is a shambles, and the country is continuously topping itself where human rights are concerned. Their fear of humans is baffling, to say the least. Because that is all there is. They are terrified of people, women and men, though of course their fear of women is generally more manifestly displayed than their fear of men. Easier to get away with, I suppose. But their continued injustice against Raif Badawi shows how stupidly sceptical and untrusting they are of people in general.

How sad, to run a country based on distrust.

Just to let you, the Internet, know: the friend who once gave me the aforementioned anger management book is coming to Vienna. So is the Eurovision Song Contest 2015, starring the famously Bearded Lady Conchita Wurst. All three things are strangely connected.

I am a tad apprehensive about the first as we have not spoken properly for a number of years. However, I have missed her less abrasive side so am also looking forward to reacquainting myself with her and catching up. She is bringing husband, son, and two spare tickets for the third dress rehearsal before the big show where Australia for the first (and last?) time is to enter as part of Europe. If you can work out the geography of that one, let me know.

It is an historical as well as hysterical event. And I will be there. I will probably remember where I was at that particular moment for the rest of my life.

On a different note, I have bought a deodorant that boasted that it would combat the odour of sweat. It seems to do the exact opposite. Unless that is the secret: it is gently pre-scented with the smell of sweat, in order to combat more effectively the odour of sweat. Because that makes sense when you’re really drunk.

Österreichisch

I finally think I’m beginning to get to grips with this strange version of German called Austrian, and then I meet another dog owner in the dog park who proceeds to talk at me non-stop for a good 45 minutes. And I can honestly say I only got about half of what he was saying. That means: I missed half of it. I simply don’t understand the noises that come out between the words. They COULD carry meaning. I don’t know.

Back to black

Yeah. Having one of those black days. Really hope the colour changes soon.

Anger

A friend once gave me a book called “The Dance of Anger”, recommending that I read it and learn to manage my anger. I did. She and I no longer talk.

I am of the persuasion that anger is not actually a bad thing. It is good to be able to admit one is angry and to identify it and let it out from time to time. Hopefully before it ends in murder.

I’m getting close to murder now, however. Since I moved in with Thomas, my anger has slowly mounted to the degree where I wonder where the hell I am supposed to let off steam WITHOUT committing murder. And I feel completely helpless about doing anything about it. Not even “The Dance of Anger” is able to help me there.

I have discovered that I make a shitty extrovert. When I come home at the end of the day, all I want is silence, solitude and the dogs. What I get is Thomas’ hyperactive social engagements and his good-for-nothing son who does NOTHING around the house, complains when Thomas includes him in our dinners (the food is NEVER to his liking) and complains when he is not included and shrugs and says he doesn’t care when asked a) if he would like dinner and b) what would he like? The kid has been asked – and agreed – to do the recycling once a week. He does it at most once a month after a LOT of pressure, and then whines that there is too much for him to carry.

He has been told that he is responsible for his own room. He could see the logic as he yelled at me that I am not his mother (well, thank FUCK for that!). I told him not to treat me like his mother in that case. This includes: I will not set foot in his room. Ever. Also not to resuscitate him when he drowns in his own shit.

Last night the little twat (he is about 1.90) actually accused me of not doing very much around the house. HE accused ME of not doing much. HE, the kid who has NEVER cleaned the toilet or any part of the bathroom, NEVER hoovered anything other than his room (I have a vague recollection of him doing that sometime last year), NEVER wiped any of the kitchen counters, NEVER washed the kitchen floor, NEVER folded a t-shirt, NEVER taken out the recycle paper (not part of his recycle tasks, thus can’t be done by him), NEVER taken out the plastic, NEVER done the weekly shop or contributed to it in any way, who on principle NEVER empties the dishwasher – oh the list goes on and on and on. Apparently, all these things do themselves by magic.

I actually do believe he got a little too close to telling me I should do all the housework (probably including sorting out his room) since I am a woman. His brother managed to say as much once. He lived to regret it. What fucking century do these kids live in? What the fuck did his useless mother teach him?

Depression is like Malaria. Once you have it, it just stays, like an extremely unwelcome mosquito.

I’d love to support the notion that all dogs are created equal. Puppies are all cute, of course, and cuddly and playful and just – oh! so lovely! And to some people I guess it is the same with babies. And so the saying goes that to begin with, we’re all the same, with all the same potential for fun, love, joy, sadness, hate and evil.

Well. I’m not so sure. Was Ted Bundy a sweet baby? How about Stalin, Mao, Hitler, fat, little Kim Jong-Un, Margaret Thatcher, Putin? Were they cute, cuddly babies? If so – at what point did they change and start showing their true colours?

I know I started with dogs and moved on to versions of tyrants here. It just struck me today when I witnessed a really bad dog-attack in a dog park here in Vienna. I am extremely fortunate to live in a city that is almost custom made for the co-existence of humans and dogs, a place where you can take your beloved pooch to restaurants and pubs, where there are designated, fenced areas provided for people to let their dogs run around free, play and socialise. A city that even has entire forests and wetlands dedicated to dogs and their people. And just because of that wonderful appreciation of dogs, I can never leave this place. I was meant to live her, in the most dog-loving city in the world.

All those who know me would probably agree that I have a set of far softer spots for dogs than I have for people, and that I am willing to let my own dogs almost get away with murder just because they’ve got me so completely twisted around their little paws. I know Thomas thinks I’m way too soft. He keeps telling me “he’s a dog!” about whatever dog I’m busy spoiling at the moment, as if I didn’t already demonstrate just how aware of that I am in my efforts to make my wee munchkin the most happy pooch in the entire world. And why shouldn’t I? What dog, as us city dwellers know them, was ever given a choice of where and how to live? With any luck they will have a good life with people who love them, but that is definitely not a given.

Let me see if I’ve managed to get back to where I started. Tabula rasa and the dog. Well, being who I am, I – by principle – support the notion that basically dogs are cuddly and sweet and blahblah. Right? And then some dick-head comes and ruins it all by taking an entire BREED and throwing it into the fighting pit, and TADA! we have an aggressive breed with aggressive owners and lots of draconian laws are passed punishing dogs and owners en masse, people who would never DREAM of forcing their dogs to fight and dogs who are equally clueless about the use of their shiny whites. And I sit there and get angry with the cowardly tossers who do such a thing to sweet, cuddly dogs who only want to be loved and – and – you can see where this is heading, right?

All dogs are created equal.

It’s just that. Some dogs are created a little more equal than others. And since the implementation of various restrictive laws because of young men owning dogs of a particular kind because they count as “cool” and powerful and aggressive and great guard dogs, I have been the number one advocate for the re-education of people on the origins of the American Staffordshire and Pit Bulls and all those related breeds who have been forced – totally against their real nature! – to be aggressive and partake in illegal fights and whatever. I would so like to believe that those powerful breeds are nothing but chubby teddy bears. That small dogs are only yappy because of their yappy owners. That Labradors are sweet because their owners are sweet.

I’ve been blessed with a wonderfully sweet and quiet dog for the past six years, Mischa – a mix of Husky, Alsatian, Labrador and possibly something else. There is not an evil bone in his body. So imagine my shock at getting Hades and Pluto, two Chinese Crested who YAP! And sometimes snap at strangers, completely without warning and for no apparent reason. Mischa was already the perfect dog when I got him as an 8-year-old dog. Now I actually have to raise two dogs, get them to BECOME the kinds of dogs I like – because they are not naturally born teddy-bears… Admittedly, Pluto is close, but Hades still has a little to learn from Mischa in that department. And they both yap. Pluto at any and every noise outside the flat, Hades  – just because.

Want to hear about the dog attack?

I had taken Mischa, Hades and Pluto to the doggie playground in Volksgarten, just off Heldenplatz. Already there were a variety of dogs, including a majestic looking tall, slim curly coated dog and an American Staffordshire. The Staff came over to greet me, Mischa and the little ones. He was incredibly powerful, all muscle, but seemed friendly enough. But then something invisible took place between the curly coated dog and the Staff and everything turned ugly. Really, really ugly. When the curly dog’s owner tired to intervene, the Staff took no notice. His jaws locked around curly’s right front leg and he started to twist. The screams of pain from the curly dog were chilling, and at this point the Staff’s owner ran in and grabbed the dog – but to no avail. He punched him to get him to let go, but no. I was just waiting for bones to snap when the Staff finally let go and instead attacked curly’s owner. The Staff’s owner finally got him to stop and calmed him down – red mist seemed to dissolve from the dog’s eyes and he was all docile again. The curly dog limped away in shock and I called him to me, calming him and comforting him. His owner was down with ugly bites to his leg.

I think the rest of us were collectively expecting the owner of the Staff to leg it with his dog. But we were happily proven wrong in our assumption about Staff-owners. He first called emergency services while holding the dog firmly. Then he put a muzzle on him and tied him to a post and attended to the other dog owner’s wounds together with a couple of other people, while I continued to reassure the wounded dog. The Staffordshire-owner’s hands were shaking. He was totally devastated and told me he was shocked, deeply shocked, and now also afraid of the dog.

An ambulance arrived, police arrived, and as things were dealt with and I collected my three (who had all behaved impeccably throughout!) and left, I turned to look at the Staffordshire who looked back at me – and I thought I was looking into the eyes of a dog with only a few more hours to live. A dog that could descend into red mist at the drop of a hat – a loaded gun. Is that what certain breeds are after all?

Washing with wine

I just accidentally washed parts of the kitchen floor with white wine. I only thank my lucky stars that this is Austria and not Norway. There, this sort of thing is tantamount to treason and punishable with twenty years hard labour and one hundred lashes administered in a public square. There, alcohol must only be spilled through the mouth and nose after a detour via the stomach.

Pluto was very eager to help me mop up the spillage, though. I am now the happy owner of a partially cleaner kitchen floor and a drunk puppy.

Well. I guess that sums up my Monday.